Kazaam is a 1996 American fantasy family musical comedy film directed by Paul Michael Glaser and stars Shaquille O'Neal as the title character Kazaam, a 5,000-year-old genie who appears from a magic boombox to grant a boy three wishes.
The film begins with a wrecking ball destroying an abandoned building. The impact knocks over a magic lamp inside of the building, causing it to land on a boombox. The genie inside decides to make residence inside the boombox from there on in.
Meanwhile, a schoolboy named Max (Francis Capra) goes to school. He greets his friend, Jake (portrayed by Jake Glaser, the director's son), with a goofy face and is chastised by his teacher. Max is confronted by a gang of bullies, who hold him on the bathroom floor and spray paint his outline. The bullies chase Max through Brooklyn. Max is chased into the abandoned building, where he discovers the boombox and accidentally unleashes the genie inside. The genie, who introduces himself as Kazaam (Shaquille O'Neal), tells Max that he is now Max's genie and proves it to him by demonstrating his powers, which results in Kazaam disappearing off the face of the earth.
Max returns home to find that his mother is marrying a fireman named Travis. It is also revealed that his mother lied to him about his real father's whereabouts, and that he is actually located in the city. Max decides to go search for his father in the hopes of rekindling a bond between them. He suddenly encounters Kazaam during his travels, who pesters Max into making a wish. Max eventually finds his father, only to learn that he is a musical talent agent who specializes in unauthorized music.
Max goes to his personal secret hideout and tells Kazaam about his father. They decide to have a bike race through Max's hideout, during which Kazaam shows off his powers. Kazaam finally convinces Max to make his first wish, which consists of junk food raining from the sky. While eating, Max suddenly realizes that he owns Kazaam until he makes his last two wishes. Max and Kazaam go out to see Max's father again.
After getting past an intimidating bodyguard, Max is introduced by his father to the other employees of the agency and invited to a nightclub where Kazaam takes the stage and starts rapping. The owner of the nightclub, Malik (Marshall Manesh), shows interest in Kazaam upon the realization that he is a genie, and he hopes to control Kazaam through Max's father. The next day, Kazaam stays in Max's home and passes himself off as Max's tutor.
Max confesses to Kazaam that he and his father aren't really connecting, though Kazaam attempts to shirk the issue with some rapping. Max attempts to wish for his father and mother to fall back in love, but Kazaam cannot grant this wish because he is not a djinn, and therefore not free to grant ethereal wishes.
Later that day, Max witnesses his father being assaulted by Malik and his minions and goes to Kazaam for help. Kazaam just received a record deal as a professional rapper and is unable to help Max out. Max is kidnapped by Malik and takes possession of Kazaam's boombox. After pushing Max down an elevator shaft, Malik summons Kazaam in the hopes that he will do his bidding. While Kazaam is initially powerless against his new master, he soon breaks free from his oppression and defeats Malik and his minions.
Kazaam transforms Malik into a basketball and then slam dunks him into a garbage disposal. However, he then finds Max's lifeless body, and wishes that he could have granted Max's wish to give his father a second chance at life. Then, in his sorrow, Kazaam finally becomes a djinn, and is therefore able to do this for Max. With him officially a djinn, he pulls Max out of harm's way and carried out of the burning building by Travis. Max's father then shows up and tells him that he hopes to rekindle the bonding with his son, before he takes off with authorities. Kazaam is then last seen walking off excited to be free, only for his girlfriend to tell that he needs to get a job.
Why It Sucks
- Poor acting, especially from Shaquille O'Neal (who plays Kazaam).
- Poor rapping that sounds more like rhyming instead of rapping.
- On the topic the the rap songs in this film, they tend to come out of nowhere and go on too long.
- Somewhat misleading title. While Kazaam is the central character of the film, he's the not main character, the real main character is Max.
- On that topic, Max is a bratty, unlikable protagonist.
- In the scene were Kazaam sings a rap in Max's father's hide out, He sings out a very ironic line: Let's Green Egg and Ham it! (a reference to the Dr Seuss book "Green Eggs and Ham"), that line felt way too forced and has nothing to do with rap or the whole film in general.
- Malik is obviously the main villain, however he is pretty pointless as he doesn't even appear until halfway in the movie.
- Scenes are very confusing, an example would be the scene when Max sees his father getting beaten up by Malik and his minions, he gets to Kazaam for help by magically appearing in a glass of water that Kazaam was drinking, pops out of the glass and appears on a table with no logic reason whatsoever.
- Very unfair ending where Kazaam is happy that he's free, only to be told by his girlfriend that he needs a job.
- Product placements (including Pepsi).
The film was released on July 17, 1996 with generally unfavorable reviews. The film currently holds a 6% "rotten" on Rotten Tomatoes with an average of 2.8 out of 10 and a critic consensus that reads "Crafted from a mix of genre clichés, Kazaam doesn't know what kind of film it wants to be, and Shaq's larger-than-life charisma is stifled by rote filmmaking and an unimaginative story." Gene Siskel of The Chicago Tribune awarded the film a 1 out of 4 stars and stated in his review that the film was "marketing, not moviemaking." and Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film a 1.5 out of 4 stars and stated in his review "As for Shaquille O'Neal, given his own three wishes the next time, he should go for a script, a director and an interesting character."
The film was released on July 17, 1996 and was both a critical disaster and a box office bomb, barely grossing $19 million on its $20 million budget.
- The film is referenced in the 2000 film Scary Movie, when Ghostface asks Drew Decker what her favorite horror movie is.